After a long journey from the Northern Cape, the mother and daughter cheetah finally arrive at the boma. They are lifted off the truck and the crates are carried into the boma by hand. Because cheetah are, in the main, not a threat to humans, many people – filmmakers, photographers and rangers among them – have gathered to quietly watch this incredible moment of the two cats being released into the boma. Natercio Ngovene, head of law enforcement operations in Maputo Special Reserve is there with the rest of crew, and happy with the set up: plenty of space, trees for shade and water. Just what these cats will need over the next few weeks as they acclimatise to their new environment.
After months and months of preparation it is all over in a flash. When the doors to the crates are opened the mother darts out and runs off into the bush. The daughter needs a little encouragement, but soon heads off into the boma to find her mother.
The cheetah from Kwa-Zulu Natal arrive the next day and CEO of Peace Parks, Werner Myburgh, is with the Peace Parks crew waiting to witness this historic event. Driving through the city of Maputo, it is quite something to be tailing a truck that, unbeknown to most other drivers, is carrying two male cheetah!
The males are released at night – Werner himself lifts the door to one crate – and they too disappear off into the bush. There are smiles all round as the crew take in this special moment. The reintroduction of cheetah into protected areas where they historically roamed is vital for the conservation of the species, which has been eliminated from 90% of its range in Africa. Here, in Maputo Special Reserve, these cheetah have a fantastic chance to thrive, and in time, increase in number.
This has been a huge collaboration between many partners, all of whom have played a vital part in the translocation. Ashia Cheetah Conservation donated the cheetah, covered the costs of translocation including transportation, vaccination and the fitting of tracking collars to monitor the big cats in their new environment. The Endangered Wildlife Trust and veterinary partner Mozambique Wildlife Alliance researched and sought the animals required for this landscape. They will all no doubt remember forever the day they helped to bring back cheetah to Maputo Special Reserve, a landscape that Mozambique’s National Administration for Conservation Areas (ANAC) and Peace Parks Foundation have spent more than a decade restoring. All only possible thanks to the support of a dedicated donor community.